The Project

 

The Testaments of Honour Historical Archive was created in 1999 to chronicle on digital video first-hand accounts of WW2 veterans. We believe that these remarkable first-person testaments provide a richer, deeper understanding of Canadian history.

 

It’s not just what these veterans had to say about their experiences, but the way in which they said it and what their faces reveal. We believe there is no more compelling way to connect with this history than to have its participants and witnesses talk to us and say, “This is what happened to me.”

 

Many of them are gone now. But through the Testaments Archive, these men and women will continue to connect with future generations, and share their experiences as first-hand witnesses of World War 2 as it erupted around them.

 

There is much more to be discovered here than a record of names, places, dates, and numbers. These are up close and personal accounts of events that changed the world. Theirs is the singular ‘stuff’ of everyday lives that forms the fabric of our history.

 

Above is a slideshow of some images from our archive of 13,000 photographs, many of them shared by veterans from their personal albums.

Photo of stoker Tom Ingham on HMCS Iroquois, 1944.

Tom Ingham, a stoker on HMCS Iroquois. Tom is one the first veterans that I interviewed who was an inspiration early on. Barney Danson (in the photograph at the right) was another great friend and a tremendous influence.

Photograph of Barney Danson and his three friends from the Queen's Own Rifles of Canada.

Barney Danson (at  far right) with his three closest friends in the Queen's Own Rifles, 1942. Barney is the only one of the four who survived the war. Barney was Minister of Veterans Affairs in the Trudeau government in the 1970s.

 

How Testaments Began

 

When I was young, and my grandfather was of a certain age, he began to talk to me about what life had been like in the trenches in the First World War. It would just be him and me talking, away from the ears of the family, with his eyes and voice conveying as much as the stories themselves.

 

That was the experience I wanted to recreate when I founded the Testaments of Honour project in 1999. This non-profit project’s purpose is to record, on digital video, the personal histories of Canadian veterans — for our children, for students, for our families, and for the veterans themselves.

 

This is my way of ensuring that the thread of experience is nurtured and kept alive — through the veterans telling their own stories to me and to the camera. These hundreds of interviews on digital video will ensure that the remarkable individuals who forged the history in those formative years will always be able to say to us, in their own words, "This Happened to Me."

 

Explore the site, have a look at the books, and take a moment to view some of the photos and video interviews chapters. If you have any questions, drop me a note and I'll get back to you!

 

Photograph of Blake Heathcote